Choosing between Professional in Home Child Care and Day Care

The decision to place your child in the care of someone else is a difficult one, no matter why you choose to do so. Making the choice of who will care for your child can be daunting but there are pros and cons to both professional in-home care and day-care. Which you choose is a personal decision based on your needs and those of your child. As a provider of both types of care over a twenty-five year period, it is hoped that I can offer some insight into this important decision.

Either type of care can be a positive experience for both you and your child. Deciding which to use can be influenced by concerns about cost, quality, effect on your individual child, safety and a number of other factors. Parents must decide what is most important to them and be sure to keep these things in mind when conducting their search. Many people have opinions about this choice and will often voice them. You are sure to hear the negatives from those on either side of the debate. It is important to focus on ways to make an informed decision.

The first place to start is with friends and relatives. Ask around to see if anyone has used care  facilities they are particularly happy with, and ask them to see if there is sufficient space for your child. Day-care facilities often have waiting lists. Those who have in-home care may also be able to tell you how they found their caregiver. If this was through a placement agency, it may be one you want to look into.

Be sure to make a list of the things that are most important to you so that you can ask the right questions and look for the things that matter to you during your visits and interviews. Some important things to consider concerning day-care would be safety, licensing, CPR certification, communication with parents, turnover of staff, open-door policy, staff to child ratio, qualifications, education and training of staff.

For in-home care, considerations would be experience, CPR and first aid certification, education, references, style of guidance and care, ability to communicate effectively with the parent, planning experience for a typical day and your own child’s interaction with the carer. These are just suggestions for a place to start. You will add your own things to the list as you consider what is most important to you.

It is important to visit a day-care center more than once, at different times of the day. High quality day-care centers will be open and welcoming when you drop by unannounced. Your first visit should be scheduled so that there is someone available to meet with you to discuss your needs and questions but, after that, it should be okay to stop in unannounced to observe. Remember that everyone has difficult times with children, so everything may not be rosy when you visit, but pay attention to how staff are handling the difficult dsituations, as this is as important as the way they react in positive times.

In the same way, it is a good idea to have an in-home caregiver spend time with your child more than once before you make your decision. Observe the caregiver’s style and how your child responds to them. On a subsequent visit, allow them to have time with the child, with you out of sight, to gauge your child’s comfort level. If possible, once you have chosen someone, start with some shorter days before you begin your regular schedule, to give your child time to become comfortable.

In the end, once you have made your choice, be sure to keep communication open and friendly. This is the best way to stay informed about how your child is doing. Ask for a report each day of what your child did that day and how it went. A caregiver should be just as open about the difficult days as the happy ones and be able to suggest anything that would help your child to be more comfortable and content. One additional consideration is what you will do when your child is sick. An in-home caregiver will likely be willing to care for your child during mild illnesses. Most day-care programs have policies requiring children to stay at home for a period of time when they are sick, so it is a good idea to have plan for these times.

Hopefully this article will help you to make an informed decision regarding the care of your child. The suggestions come from many years of experience as a caregiver and business owner, in both types of care, and are intended to assist you in deciding which way to go, rather than to make the choice for parents. Only you can know what will be best for you and your child.